I’m an English short story writer currently based in Edinburgh. I was born in Greenwich, London during the summer of 1976, and grew up in Berkeley, California before moving back to the UK aged eight. My first job was working as assistant and editor to the late President of Mensa. I have a Masters degree in Creative Writing from UEA, where I was awarded the Curtis Brown Prize. When I was twenty-one, I was commissioned by Faber and Faber to write them a book. I made the decision to write a collection of short stories, a form I particularly love, and wrote most of the collection while living in Prague, Czech Republic. While there, I also ran a face painting company, worked for a Czech art gallery, and taught creative writing and performance to children (ages 7-13) and adults. I have also taught in secondary schools in Germany and England (from KS3 up to A-level) and have specific experience of using creative writing with students for whom English is a second language. I have a bright and energetic personality and a passion for writing which I love to share with my students. Prior to Edinburgh, I was living in Berlin, Germany. I have a baby daughter and a dog called Monkey.
About writer's work
My debut story collection The Loudest Sound and Nothing was published in September 2007 by Faber and Faber. The following summer I was awarded the BBC National Short Story Award for the opening story The Numbers, set on a fictional island inspired by the Outer Hebrides, an area which I haven’t yet visited. Using writing as a means to satisfy my wanderlust has always been important to me, as is exploring other lives and times - I rarely write about my own experience, and reviewers always comment upon the diversity within my stories. One of the stories is now on the GCSE syllabus and the collection is included on the reading lists of a number of university courses. I have given writing workshops to school groups who have previously been studying my work and these have worked extremely well and have produced great results from the students. I have also written for BBC Radio 4 and NPR Worldwide. Currently I am working on a new collection of stories for Faber, as well as a novel which will be set in British Malaya in the early half of the last century. Most recently, one of the stories from my forthcoming collection was longlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Bank Award. I also have a children’s picture book called Has Anyone Seen My Chihuahua? coming out with Walker Books in August 2011. From late March 2011, I will be taking up a six-month appointment as the BookTrust Writer-in-Residence.
Current events and projects
I'm available for all types of events and have a wide experience with readings, residencies, book group visits, and workshops for all ages and levels of writing experience. This past month, for example, I returned as writer in residence to a high school in north-western Germany. There I held writing workshops with late-teenage German student groups ranging from 12 to 50 students per group. I was using a workshop plan devised in response to the Photo Stories exhibition I am currently co-curating, which uses photographs as inspiration for stories. I also gave a reading for 150 students for which I did an anatomy of my story Folks Like Us and discussed the real life figures who had been its inspiration - Bonnie and Clyde. While at the school, I also held workshops with language teachers who had come from all over the district for a professional development day. The workshops aimed to demonstrate how they might use creative writing with their own students. The following weekend I held a one-day workshop at the Dickens Museum in London with adult writers which explored how to develop characters. I have just this past week begun my online residency with Booktrust and will be writing a regular blog and writers tips for the Booktrust website.